In our first and 2nd pieces for Armchair GMs, we heard from a very thorough Will Soprano who enticed, or infuriated, us with a trade of ultimate magnitude. Then we heard from Armchair GMs in J.T. Hornbuckle (Twitter: @jthornbuckle) and Aubrey Smith (Twitter: @braveslive16) who have different ideas on what the 2018 Braves might look like. Let’s hear from J.T. first!
For our 3rd installment, we hear from Tyler Wilson (@BravesTwills) who proposes a fairly large package of players to a team that is very familiar with the Braves system. Without further ado, I present Tyler.
Tyler Wilson, Braves Armchair GM
The Braves have prospects in the back-end of their top-30 list that would rank significantly higher in the Royals’ system, and the Royals have a few temporary pieces left that they can use to try and jumpstart another rebuild attempt. If the Braves and Royals are willing to work together towards mutual benefits, this trade proposal could accomplish a great deal.
The Braves’ bullpen needs some work, and if there’s a way to get two solid relievers in one trade, count me in. In all honesty, the ‘pen is two arms and a stretch of growing pains away from being an above-average, major league unit.
Meanwhile, Kansas City is losing Eric Hosmer to free agency, and Brandon Moss, their go-to DH, was barely serviceable this year. Moss posted an ugly .207/.279/.428 slash line to go along with an OPS+ of just 84. His only job with the Royals is to hit baseballs, and seeing as how he’s barely been able to do that, Brandon Moss may find himself designated for assignment before Opening Day.
Why Braves would do it
Free agent relievers could wind up getting expensive this offseason, and the Braves are in no position to be big spenders. This becomes especially true when taking into account the money that will have to be spent to move the defensive liability that is Matt Kemp. If Atlanta wants to fix their bullpen without breaking the bank, it will almost have to be via trade.
Why the Royals would do it
Just as it seemed like the Royals were transforming into an AL Central powerhouse, the effects of what appeared to be a successful rebuild vanished into thin air. Kansas City’s window for opportunity was narrow, and it’s already closing. Dayton Moore did a great job acquiring talent, but wasn’t able to set the club up for sustained success. The Royals have one of the worst farm systems in all of baseball, and now it’s time to shift focus towards it instead of the MLB club.
Making sense of the deal
Matt Kemp was a great idea at first. Atlanta didn’t want the drama surrounding Hector Olivera, and there was a slim chance Kemp’s hamstrings wouldn’t render him useless in the outfield. However, now it’s clear that his legs can’t be trusted to run the bases and patrol left field. The remainder of Matt Kemp’s career will need to be spent as a DH, and he’d certainly be a more productive bat than Brandon Moss. The only problem with trading him is the whopping $19MM the Braves owe him for the next two years, but sending the Royals $13MM a year should take care of that.
On the other hand, Atlanta has the Matt Adams conundrum. He’s a good hitter, but he’s also a first baseman not named Freddie Freeman, so he doesn’t fit into the Braves’ plans. I’ve come to terms with the fact that Atlanta’s not moving Freddie to third base to let Adams play first, and I don’t want Adams wandering around in left field, so he’s got to be traded. Wait, what’s that? Who just lost their first baseman to free agency? Mhmm, exactly. Matt Adams is no Eric Hosmer, but he’s definitely an affordable, power hitting first baseman. Adams is coming off of the best season of his career, positing an .841 OPS in 367 PA. Even with limited opportunities, Adams was able to belt 20 home runs, and if that isn’t attractive to a team in need of a first baseman, I don’t know what is.
Anfernee Seymour and Huascar Ynoa are two young, low-level prospects in the midst of development, and while they aren’t MLB-ready, they’re both capable of eventually developing into MLB players. While they’re both outside the Braves’ top-20, they’d both be too-20 guys in Kansas City’s system, if not top-15. Seymour’s speedy, and showed this year that he can hit for contact, and Ynoa has a plus fastball at 19-years-old that he has time to build an arsenal around.
As for the arms the Royals would be giving up, they’re essentially sending the Braves a one-year rental of Kelvin Herrera and a solid, innings-eating reliever, and getting a fair amount of offensive production and a pair of prospects in return. Herrera will be a free agent after the 2018 season, and will be looking for a nice payday that probably won’t be a part of the Royals’ plans anyways. It’s reminiscent of how Atlanta traded away Craig Kimbrel in the early stages of their rebuild a few years back. Buchter, on the other hand, is the key piece for the Braves. Sure, they may be able to re-sign Herrera after 2018, which would be awesome, but Buchter has three arbitration years left, and could be another long-term bullpen option for Atlanta to consider. Buchter debuted as a Brave back in 2014, making just one scoreless appearance before being granted free agency following the 2014 season. Since he made his way back to the MLB in 2016, Buchter has posted a 2.85 ERA in 129.1 innings of relief. That number, along with a career 1.052 WHIP, gets me excited to spend a pair of prospects on him.
Could it all happen? This trade would fulfill several needs between both organizations, giving the Royals some farm depth and immediately replenishing offense lost to free agency, while giving the Braves the bullpen help they need to possibly make a playoff run. Atlanta has the extra cash this offseason to eat a significant amount of Matt Kemp’s salary, making the deal quite possible. However while it’s possible for things to go down this way, it all hinges on Dayton Moore’s perception of Kemp, and whether he’s willing to pay him $6MM to DH while potentially eating money on Brandon Moss’ contract to either trade him away or DFA him. If these two clubs can make this deal happen, the Braves are that much closer to making their first playoff run since 2013.
Thoughts? Counterpoints? Let’s hear from you guys and gals!